The questions are, How can we be more alert to signs of trouble and respond in ways that can help prevent or correct harmful situations? And what can we do to help children and adolescents think and act in ways that will keep themselves and others safe?
I’ve read enlightening reports offered by the media that address these issues – illustrating with examples how innocent adults and children can be lured into a trap and how they can avert it, and explaining how character education can prepare young people to make good judgments even under peer pressure. It’s heartening to see the media engaging in this kind of public education. It’s helpful, and greatly needed. The more the better – and I want to do all I can to support it.
I find it natural to turn to prayer for guidance in this endeavor. What’s been coming to the forefront of my prayers is this idea: We are all God’s sons and daughters, and, as such, we each (children and adolescents included) have built-in good-judgment equipment. Let me explain.
What I’m talking about is something that already exists within everyone – our inseparable connection with God, the infinite and unerring divine Mind, and our God-given ability to know and do what’s right and good under any circumstance. We live in God’s presence. In actual fact, God, good, is presence itself – the only real presence – in which we live and move, and from which it is impossible to be disconnected. Consequently, the wisdom of God is with us in every situation, for us to discern and respond to. The Bible's book of Isaiah, a book that Jesus referenced often in his ministry, gives us this assurance: “If you go the wrong way – to the right or to the left – you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the right way. You should go this way’ ” (Isaiah 30:21, New Century Version).
This doesn’t mean, of course, that we will necessarily hear God speaking to us in an audible voice, or in words detailing exactly what we should do. It does mean, though, that we each have within us the spiritual intuition to discern the direction in which divine Love is leading us – and that we have the ability to follow it even if human opinions and pressures are urging us in other directions that we intuitively know are wrong.
This connection with God and His ever-available and unerring guidance can be nurtured and practiced. It’s a solid foundation to build upon in our own lives, and in our efforts to help children and young people. It is sure to make these efforts increasingly successful. And our example is a sure help to others. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, makes that point clear in this way: “A musician demonstrates the beauty of the music he teaches in order to show the learner the way by practice as well as precept” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 26).
In addition, though, we can know that no child, young person, or adult can ever be without God’s guidance and the ability to respond to it. For whether or not one has been taught this truth or been supplied with living examples, the ability to hear and follow the guidance of divine Love is spiritually inherent in each man, woman, and child. Here is the basis for effective prayer for those we love, all humanity, and ourselves.
This kind of prayer is practical because individuals are often placed under the stress of circumstances in which there is an urgent need requiring an immediate decision, with no time to ponder all the possible courses of action and their consequences. But everyone is actually equipped with good judgement and the inherent ability to tap into and follow the divine wisdom that trumps mere human reasoning and is immediately at hand. Prayer that acknowledges this fact is an anchor promoting sound judgments and actions to keep individuals and communities safe and secure. Let us pray.